Does Social Status Impact Mental Health?

Vanessa Voss : Integrative Biology

Mentor: Darlene Francis, Psychology

The goal of this project is to expand our understanding of the role social status plays in the etiology of depression. In humans, there is a strong inverse relationship between social status and depression. Those at the top of their social hierarchy experience less depression compared to those at the bottom. Our laboratory has developed a basic animal model which will allow us to explore the causal relationships between social status and depression. Vanessa will be tracking rats before, during and after hierarchy formation to determine which comes first, the social rank or the depression profiles. Her work will culminate in a psychology senior honors thesis and significantly advance our understanding of the complex nature of social status and mental health.